70’s, 80’s, and 90’s kids might miss the good ol’ days of writing down a character sheet and rolling a dice to determine whether a risky jump would land them on the next platform or down the abyss of unspeakable terror. In the era of video games, tabletop RPGs aren’t as popular as they used to be. They are still around and some groups still play them religiously with occasional players joining either for the sake of nostalgia or to learn some nerd history.
Behold Studios, an indie game development studio based in Brazil, became notoriously popular with the release of Knights of Pen and Paper in 2013, an RPG that takes a lot of inspiration from tabletop RPGs. Available on Android, iOS, and Steam, the game was positively received thanks to its simple gameplay mechanics and a collection of jokes relating to old school RPGs. The sequel, Knights of Pen and Paper 2 (developed by KYY Games instead), also found its place under the sun. But that’s not enough for Behold, as they are currently working on a third installment in the Pen and Paper series that will take RPG fans to space.
Galaxy of Pen and Paper improves upon its predecessors with sleek sci-fi graphics and references to this specific nerd culture branch. It doesn’t stray far from the gameplay elements of the first two, being a familiar experience for those who have played the Knights of Pen and Paper games. Players start off by customizing the GM (game master) and two starting player characters. The GM customization includes an array of both male and female characters as well as lots of references to nerd pop culture, such as the armchair, glasses, and garment associated with Morpheus from The Matrix trilogy. The player characters, however, don’t have as many nods to pop culture, with their customization consisting of eight archetypes, three races, and four classes, each combination providing a different set of stats.
The party starts their space journey on a sand planet à la Star Wars. They purchase a spaceship from a shady individual but forget to read the contract more carefully. The result is a huge debt that, due to its ridiculous amount, has them on a leash. This introductory section is rather short and presents the game’s basic mechanics, such as the quest maker, the ability to explore the world (and later space), and customizing enemy encounters to progress with the story.
Unfortunately, the comic factor that made the first installment so popular is barely present in Galaxy of Pen and Paper. Whereas Knights of Pen and Paper had clever references to tabletop RPGs and nerd culture at large, Galaxy struggles to land any substantial jokes, relying mostly on visuals to connect to its source material. This could be associated to the fact that the game is currently in alpha, so Behold Studios might flesh out the story in later builds. With the gameplay being so close to previous entries in the series and the sci-fi atmosphere being the most obvious selling point, polishing the plot and the jokes might greatly impact the game’s success upon release.
Slated for release in late July, Galaxy of Pen and Paper will be available on Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.